Who Gets David Price? It Depends on How The Rays Do
The Tampa Bay Rays would love to hold on to David Price for a playoff run in 2013. But the team’s financial picture and his high value make him a prime candidate to trade for a haul of younger, affordable prospects. Whom the Rays eventually trade with will depend on whether they are winning enough by the trading deadline to want to keep Price, or doing poorly enough to deal him.
The team that eventually trades for Price would need the financial means to handle his escalating salary in arbitration and maybe offer the ace the extension he would deserve, but the key will be the prospect package that would make the Rays a willing partner.
The St. Louis Cardinals look like the team most likely to garner Price in a midseason trade.
With Chris Carpenter gone, St. Louis will be looking for a front line starter to join Adam Wainwright for a playoff push if they’re in the hunt. The fact that Price would be under team control through 2016 would be an added bonus.
A package led by top prospect Oscar Taveras with a couple of promising arms from among Cardinal prospects and rookies would parallel the kind of trade the Rays got from Kansas City for James Shields this past offseason, with an upgrade in quality that would be due for the reigning Cy Young winner.
Once the 2013 season is over, though, this deal would be less likely to come together. Wainwright’s extension and Shelby Miller’s apparent emergence help solidify the Cardinal rotation moving forward. If their prospects perform in late season call-ups, the Cards will be less willing to deal, and the Rays may be less able to control the clock on their arbitration years. Incentives would fade on both sides.
The offseason would leave the Rays looking to trade with teams whose top prospects are still in the minors. At or near the top of the list would be the Minnesota Twins. The Twins’ rotation is an acknowledged weakness, with no clear leader and little help coming up through the farm. Price – perhaps packaged with another arm from Tampa’s starting depth as Wade Davis was packaged with Shields – would be a great piece to build around.
To lure the Rays, Minnesota has a batch of promising young position players coming up. Led by Miguel Sano, a 19 year old corner infielder credited with stunning power, and Byron Buxton, a toolsy teenage outfielder picked second in the 2012 First Year Player draft, the Twins have a pool rich in offense and right handed pitching that won’t be due to arrive in the majors until 2014 or later. This could be difficult for the offensively challenged, yet budget-minded Rays to resist.
The Rays do well, and Price heads to Minnesota after leading Tampa in its 2013 playoff quest. The Rays do not so well, and Price could find himself pitching St. Louis into the playoffs instead.